Defense Secretary James Mattis urged the U.S. Army to “be ready” Monday in the event diplomacy fails with North Korea.
Following his keynote address at the annual Association of the United States Army convention in Washington, Mattis stressed the importance of having “military options” prepared for President Trump should the situation deteriorate.
“Right now it is a diplomatically led, economic sanctions-buttressed effort to try to turn North Korea off this path,” Mattis said. “Now, what does the future hold? Neither you nor I can say, so there’s one thing the U.S. Army can do, and that is we have got to be ready to ensure that we have military options that our president can employ if needed.”
Mattis went on to highlight the administration’s success in rallying the international community to condemn Pyongyang’s continued missile and nuclear weapons tests.
“How many times have you seen the UN Security Council vote unanimously, now twice in a row, to impose sanctions on North Korea?” Mattis said. “The international community has spoken, but that means the U.S. Army must stand ready.”
The former Marine Corps general also emphasized his desire to avoid military confrontation with Pyongyang by pointing to “This Kind of War,” a popular book among military historians detailing the United States’ failures in the Korean war.
“You know there’s a reason I recommended T.R. Fehrenbach’s book, that we all pull it out and read it one more time,” Mattis said.
Last week during a meeting at the White House, Trump called upon Mattis and numerous generals to develop at “much faster pace” military options for North Korea.
While speaking with reporters shortly after, Trump ominously stated that “maybe it’s the calm before the storm,” raising questions over whether the president was preparing a military strike against Pyongyang.
Trump on Saturday appeared to voice support for the use of kinetic action in a statement on Twitter.
“Presidents and their administrations have been talking to North Korea for 25 years, agreements made and massive amounts of money paid,” Trump tweeted. “[H]asn’t worked, agreements violated before the ink was dry, makings [sic] fools of U.S. negotiators. Sorry, but only one thing will work!”
Prior to Mattis’ speech, Trump made similar statements in an early Monday morning tweet.
“Our country has been unsuccessfully dealing with North Korea for 25 years, giving billions of dollars & getting nothing” Trump said. “Policy didn’t work!”
Amid escalating tensions between Washington and Pyongyang, North Korea analysts are warning that upcoming anniversaries could lead to another nuclear weapons or missile test.
“October 9 marks the anniversary of North Korea’s first nuclear test in 2006,” VOA News reports. “And October 10 is when the increasingly isolated state celebrates the 1945 establishment of its ruling Workers’ Party of Korea.”
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